CENTRAL CITY, Ky. – Nine new inductees will join the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame on Nov. 2 at their museum in downtown Central City, Ky.
The latest inductees are a mix of individuals were all born in the state or lived within the state for a major portion of their involvement and have made a major impact on the sporting genre.
Having spent a lot of his time on the Ohio River and the waterways of the United States, Hydroplane racer Jim McCormick brings bona fide Hollywood status to the Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame as the Owensboro-born racer was the central character the movie Madison was based upon. He was the first to score back-to-back wins in the boat from the other side of the river, named Miss Madison.
Joining McCormick in the class of 2019 is drag racing duo Bill Thornberry and Tom Seigle. The Louisville gentlemen began racing in 1964 and continued to field drag racing cars they built until 1987. Along the way, they were among the first to field an all-aluminum block racing engine and were known for their workmanship in building early chassis’ for competition. A career highlight came in 1976 during the IHRA Dixie Nationals, when they beat legendary racer Don Garlits in semi-final action before losing in the finals.
Innovating drag racing standards was the focus on another inductee, as Mike Libs’ fascination and love with the straight strips of asphalt led to his endeavors of taking a committed group of friends from drag strip to drag strip to officiate and facilitate drag racing events in a uniformed manner. Forming their own traveling series, these officials brought a unified setting to the sport and under their leadership, established a standard within the state.
Engine building Ira Jackson Cornett of Somerset, Ky., better known as “Red,” had his hands directly in the advancement of motorsports in Kentucky unlike very few. His motor building dedication and expertise reached every form of motorsports in Kentucky and his unmatched product powered racers and teams not only in the continental United States, but his engines have propelled motorsports winners across the world. From farm tractors in pulling competitions to some of the fastest drag and stock cars, the Cornett name has become a standard engine name other builders try to match. The Somerset-based Cornett Racing Engines continues today as a leader in their field in memory of Cornett, who passed in 2012.
Joe Keller of Louisville joins the list of inductees after a lifetime of drag racing and street rodding involvement since 1956. Known as an expert wirer in building cars, Keller was a fouding member of the Olklahona Street Rods group in Louisville and served as an NSRA safety inspector and State Representative.
Three previously announced inductees, race track promoter Jake Gibson (promoter of the Jeffersonville, Ind., facility knowns as the Sportsdrome), female drag racer Benitta Rusell of Marion, Ind., and 17-time track champion from competitions at Louisville and Sportsdrome racing, Chris Harmon of Brooks, Ky., will also be celebrated and inducted in the soon to open Kentucky Motorsports Hall of Fame and Museum located in downtown Central City.